Whether you are going through menopause or simply suffering from the natural decline of energy that occurs as a result of aging, you might have considered hormone therapy.
Bioidentical hormone therapy (BHRT) is a treatment in which the patient receives hormones that are identical on a molecular level to hormones received during hormone replacement therapy. Concerns over the safety of traditional hormone replacement therapy has increased patients’ desire for non-synthetic hormones, as bioidentical hormone therapy has been marketed as a ‘safer’ way to enjoy the benefits of hormone therapy without the increased risk of cancer and health issues associated with traditional HRT. While bioidentical therapy is safer than synthetic hormones in this regard, it does come with potential risks and increased incidences of cancer and other side effects such as high blood pressure have been reported. As with all medical treatments, BHRT should be utilized with caution and only in moderation.
And remember, all hormone treatments should be fully discussed with your doctor and you should be aware of all possible side effects. The smallest amount possible should be used, and only for the shortest time possible. BHRT isn’t a long term solution and you should only use it to manage your most pervasive of symptoms until your hormone levels are stabilized. All hormone therapies come with risk, and you should undergo bioidentical hormone therapy with the same caution that you would any other medical treatment.
In the case of menopause, bioidentical hormones are customized for a woman's specific needs and are chemically identical to hormones naturally found in a woman's body. Your doctor determines your exact needs by ordering a hormone panel, which reveals the current levels of your hormones, including estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, pregnenolone, and DHEA. Your prescription is compounded using the results from your hormone panel.
Your prescription can be in the form of capsules, sublingual lozenges, or topical and vaginal creams and gels. You might receive them in a small bottle with a dropper to put under your tongue or in a tube that looks like a syringe. Since BHRT is customized to each woman’s specific hormone needs, it is believed to be a more effective and comprehensive treatment than HRT; however, researchers caution that there have not been any clear-cut studies that prove the effectiveness of BHRT, nor have there been any studies that measure the long-term effects of the treatment, if any. Hormones are still a relatively new frontier in the medical community, and it’s important to keep this in mind when undergoing any hormone therapy, synthetic or otherwise.
Since there are still many questions about hormone therapy, some women prefer taking a holistic approach to treating their menopausal symptoms. A “mind-body-spirit” approach can help you treat the many symptoms of menopause — from the physical to the emotional to the sexual,
Additional Alternatives to Consider
If low libido is one of your primary menopausal symptoms, you might consider the Eros-CTD (for clitoral therapy device), the only FDA-approved intervention for female sexual arousal problems. It is a handheld device that provides gentle suction to increase blood flow to the clitoris and surrounding area. If you are not on any nitrates, you may consider Viagra or a similar drug to improve blood flow and sensation. You might also consider Zestra, a safe, natural blend of botanical oils and extracts that works by heightening a woman's sensitivity to touch.
If weight gain is a concern, you can modify your diet and exercise plan with menopause in mind. There are actually menopause diet plans out there, including The Menopause Diet by Larrian Gillespie, which offers women a way to get healthy and slim down when confronted with the unique challenges of menopause.
If you are suffering from the emotional side effects of menopause (depression or mood swings), you might consider psychotherapy as a valuable resource during this time. Menopause is more than just shifting hormones, it’s often a time of great change in a woman’s life during which she reestablishes her identity, and it can be very helpful to have a safe, unbiased place to discuss these feelings and changes. Whatever route of menopausal treatment you choose, just make sure that you carefully consider all your options to choose the one that suits your mind and body best.